The family of a Southern California toddler rescued by his pet cat from a vicious dog attack said on NBC's "Today" show that they were surprised by the feline's heroic actions.
“It was pretty amazing to see just a cat take on a dog and so selflessly just put herself out there and not worry about if she was going to get bit or injured herself," said Roger Triantafilo, father of 4-year-old Jeremy. "I think that dog did not know what hit him.”
Jeremy was playing on his bicycle in his driveway in Bakersfield Tuesday when the next door neighbor’s dog sneaked up behind him and began biting his leg, home security camera footage posted to YouTube shows.
The family’s cat, Tara, rushed the dog twice and chased it away.
“It’s honestly just a blur,” Jeremy's mother Erica Triantafilo said on "Today" Thursday of the attack by the 8-month-old labrador-chow mix. “I just remember hearing [Jeremy] and the next thing I know, I see my cat flying out of nowhere, onto this dog."
Jeremy suffered two deep cuts on his leg and received 10 stitches, his parents said. During Thursday's interview, he slept in his mom's arms while Tara played next to him.
“He’s just bouncing back from this. He tells us it feels better, and he’s ready to get out there and run around and play with other kids again,” Erica Triantafilo said.
Roger Triantafilo said he didn’t realize the cat’s role in his son’s rescue until he checked the home surveillance video.
“I was like, ‘Well, you know, I’m going to check the tape and see if we got anything, and see if it even caught what happened," he said. The video went viral Wednesday and had more than five million views on YouTube by Thursday.
The owners of the dog that attacked Jeremy voluntarily brought it to the Bakersfield Animal Care Center where it will be quarantined then euthanized.
The Triantafilos said they never expected that Tara, the stray cat they adopted six years ago, would become their son's savior.
“Every once in a while she puts our dog back into her place, but for the most part, she’s just the most mellow cat you’ve ever met,” Erica Triantafilo said. “All our boys love her and pick on her occasionally. She just loves them right back anyway.”